Archive for the ‘Life and Ministry’ Category

My son, give attention to my words; Incline your ear to my sayings.

Do not let them depart from your sight; Keep them in the midst of your heart.

For they are life to those who find them And health to all their body.

Proverbs 4:20-22

Today there is a plethora of voices in our society all claiming to have the answer for personal health. Over the years I have listened to a variety of those voices (and in most cases ignored their advice) whether it was in school, over the internet, on TV or in a magazine. Being relatively healthy and naturally thin for so many years (often in spite of unhealthy life choices) I really did not have a focus on health, physically, mentally or spiritually. Health just seemed to me to be what was.

It was really not until 2013 and Allana’s battle with Leukemia that the importance of health came solidly in view. How clear the importance of something becomes when it is suddenly gone. As God walked with me the path of hupomone living, the idea of healthy living solidified. That path extends beyond 2013.  God was patient if not necessarily gentle as he brought me out of the desolation that I had made of my life by 2001.  As is often the case he inspired changes in lifestyle long before I understood the direction and truth of hupomone living.  I stopped using alcohol to backstop the weak areas in my life.  I quit smoking.  Allana brought stability to my relational life and I found myself engaged with mature Christian men and women.  God placed me in positions of ministry and opened opportunities for sharing the Gospel message.  The normal stressors of life (and some not so normal) began to be opportunities to grow and mature instead of being occasions of descent into selfish behaviors.

The first step to healthy living was to hear and listen to the voice of God in my life, the small still voice of God encouraging me to return to the path of health that he had for me. It is true that some have giant, radical life changes when they encounter God.  While these changes can be valid works of the Holy Spirit, we fool ourselves if we think they eliminate the need for the daily work that is involved in the healthy living of the hupomone lifestyle.  I think that in many cases the noise and clamor of such transformations actually makes settling into daily listening to that small still voice so much more difficult.  This can result in a stalled relationship and stagnant personal health as we only identify the work of the Holy Spirit with radical change. So in the absence of the “burning bush” experience we miss the growth that God has for us.

Hupomone health takes on the characteristics of God as our relationship with Him grows.  It is a health that transcends human circumstances and yet expresses itself concretely in our lives.  Hupomone health proceeds directly from the wisdom of the Father.

“Behold, I will bring to it health and healing, and I will heal them; and I will reveal to them an abundance of peace and truth.”
Jeremiah 33:6

Hupomone health is a function of supernatural healing.  Jeremiah links health and healing to peace and truth.  These are the gifts that Jesus brings to his people and form the foundation of healthy living for ever Christian.

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through me.” John 14:6

Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you.  Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful. John 14:27

Accepting peace and truth from God is not as easy as it sounds.  It is a spiritual journey, one with many steps, falters and restarts.  It rests in what Peter Scazzero calls “Loving Union” (Emotionally Healthy Leadership).

“Loving Union is an act of surrender– giving God complete access” (EHL, p. 117)

It is only in that act of total surrender that we can truly accept God’s truth and peace that is so foreign to everything that this world has to offer.  When we come to this place it is a profound move towards the hupomone lifestyle and the health that comes with it.

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Paul made much of his weakness and of the fact that the Holy Spirit manifests itself greatly in our weaknesses making us strong. This is very much true. When God calls you into that uncomfortable place of service that you never expected to be in, He will empower you to be more excellent than you could ever imagine.

“And he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9

When we use this and other verses like it to focus on our weakness, we miss the entire point. It is not about my weakness. It is about the power of Christ that dwells in me. The Holy Spirit is not out there creating empowerment in the consequences of our incompetent behavior. He is dwelling in us crying out for us to push ourselves to a level of excellence that can only come from God, Redemptive Excellence.

Redemptive Excellence should be the hallmark of godly, Holy Spirit led men and women. They should stand out in every way.

“Now as they observed the confidence of Peter and John and understood that they were uneducated and untrained men, they were amazed, and began to recognize them as having been with Jesus” Acts 4:13

It was a matter of Redemptive Excellence that caused the Jewish leaders to recognize that these men had been with Jesus. No they were not formally educated but they had applied themselves to excellence during their time with Jesus and the Holy Spirit came up underneath that effort and made them men that would turn the world upside down. (Acts 17:6 KJV) The Holy Spirit did not come behind them cleaning up their messes or excusing their lack of effort. He empowered them to be amazing.

Redemptive Excellence is an expression of God’s call on someone’s life. The Old Testament is full of men and women called by the Holy Spirit to Redemptive Excellence. In each case whether it was Gideon, Deborah, Samuel, David, Elisha, Isaiah and the list goes one, they followed the call of God and the Holy Spirit empowered them to Redemptive Excellence that brought to them a standard of performance that they would not have otherwise attained. It was this empowerment coupled with effort and focus that brought world changing results.

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A little about Allana’s online Ministry for Women, True Beauty.

I recently asked my True Beauty members to give me words to describe True Beauty – this picture shows those words. Want to know more about True Beauty? Then keep reading…

In July 2014, a year after my cancer fight, I shared on Facebook that I wanted to get healthy – physically, emotionally, spiritually, and even relationally. Many women commented that they were in the same place. I felt the Holy Spirit nudge my heart to start a Facebook Group for women of all ages to have a safe place to find accountability, support and prayer as they were on their journey to grow healthier in every area of their life. I can’t believe that we will celebrate our 4th year in July!

True Beauty has two private Facebook Groups. One is for those who are in the Michigan and Ohio area. The other TB group is for women spread throughout the US. We have ladies who live in Wyoming, Montana, Washington, Texas, Florida, Missouri, and Indiana. I don’t let either group have more than 25 members in it because I believe that we grow best in small groups. We have ladies in all different seasons… some are married, some are divorced, and some have never been married. We have some that are young mothers, some that are dealing with teenagers, some that have adult children, and some that do not have any children. We have members who work in the home and some that work outside of their home. We have members who have followed Jesus for years and years, and others who are just starting out on their spiritual journey. All women are welcome.

Aside from the two True Beauty groups, we also have two side groups that all the True Beauty members are able to join – One is called Saturate – that is our Bible Study group for those who really want to dig into God’s Word. Right now we are studying Hebrews 11 and digging in deep with all the ‘heroes of faith’. We also have True Beauty Fit, which is a group that is focused on the physical aspect of our lives. It is very encouraging and motivating as we make healthy choices for our body.

True Beauty might be for you if:
• You are looking for accountability in your walk with God
• You enjoy praying and encouraging other women while
they are on their own walk of life
• You love Jesus and you want to grow closer to Him
• You want to be encouraged in your physical, emotional
and spiritual health
• You desire to be in a safe group with authentic Christ-
followers
• You want a place where you can take off the mask and
just be real
• You visit Facebook multiple times a week

Here are four statements from a few of our Beauties that I want to share with you because they tell the heart of True Beauty.

“True Beauty is my safe haven. I know that I can open up and reveal vulnerability and feel nothing but love, support, and uplifting encouragement in return. Not only can I rely and count on prayer warriors lifting me up in my time of need but the love and acceptance with open arms is one that surpasses any group I have been a part of. These ladies are imperfect and flawed just like me and there is no judgement when any of us talk about our shortcomings or falling short of the glory of God. They love you and help you out of that battle you are fighting. This place is close to my heart” Member since 2014

“True Beauty came to me during a time of brokenness in my life, the Lord sent His comfort, strength and encouragement to me through this special group of women and I will always treasure them for their sensitivity, love and grace. True Beauty is a safe haven for growth, unconditional love and fellowship for women in Christ, no matter what stage of life you are in!” Member since 2015

“I love TB as it has helped me make real spiritual connections with people and loving relationships. I feel safe being able to express my needs and thoughts here. I’m so thankful God brought me here.” Member since 2016

“I love True Beauty because I know that no matter what, there is always someone there to talk to about anything at all. I love that no matter what stage of life we are in, we have support.” Member since 2017

Thanks for reading! True Beauty has become so much more than I ever dreamed of in the beginning. I had no idea that it would become such a meaningful and powerful group filled with friendships that would encourage my life with such richness that I really can’t even really put into words.
If you are interested in joining, please private message me and I will give you more info.

(FB:  Allana Belrose Guidry)

 

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Health

Behold, I will bring them health and healing, and I will heal them; and I will reveal to them an abundance of peace and truth.

Jeremiah 33:6

 

2018 was an incredible year of highs and lows.  2018 brought one of the best vacations, spending time with all my children and grandchildren in the beautiful landscape of Tennessee.  2018 brought the passing of one of the most influential and important people of my life, my mother.  The suddenness and speed of her decline and death were only matched by the incredible presence of the Holy Spirit and the wonderful times of fellowship that I had with my siblings and their families.

2018 brought the five year anniversary of Allana’s bone marrow transplant and the frustrations of all the little things that are our new normal.  Still if I were to characterize 2018 it was a year of healing and recovery.  It brought us into new ministry as a family and really for the first time since the Leukemia had us looking to our futures in service of our Lord.  Still the truth is that we were living in a state of un-health.  It was towards the latter part of the year (the fourth quarter of madness as anyone who works for a non-profit will tell you) that God began to speak to me about the healing that he had for me, for Allana and for our family.  I really didn’t understand at first. “We are doing quite well”, I said to myself. “Look at all the things that we are doing.” I certainly felt healthy.  I was inspired to lose weight after our wonderful vacation and dropped 30 lbs before Christmas, that is healthy right? I even read Emotionally Healthy Spirituality this year! So what was the deal. I was living the Hupomone life….

There are times in our lives where the situations of life force us into living in un-health.  This is not in itself a physical state but it is a spiritual reflection of a physical state.  I had been focused on Allana’s leukemia for five years.  I regularly thanked God for his miraculous interventions and for the blessing of life that have become a part of our story.  Yet still I was focused on the leukemia and the ensuing “new normal”.  Un-health had become woven into the tapestry of my world view.  This is a normal reaction to crisis.  I thought that as the crisis subsided I had slowly released the un-health that was my focus but the reality is that it became much more sublime and squeezed out sideways into our lives and decisions.  It became so much a part of us that it simply felt like health.  I unknowingly edited every decision, every move through the lens of illness and called it wisdom.  This impacted every area of our lives.

The great thing with God is there is no judgement.  His call to a year of health was not shaded with disappointment or anger.  It was simply a statement that the time had come for a change.  It was not a condemnation of the way that Allana and I had lived for the past 6 years.  It was recognition that we had passed through the wilderness and it was time to move into the Promised Land, oh and by the way, giants live there…but that’s OK. Think of it like athletes playing sports.  They play baseball through the summer season, carrying a bat and a glove.  When the season is over and they move to football, if they stay in their baseball uniforms and carry bats it is going to be a problem.  We need to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit and its leading into the seasons of our lives.  We need to be prepared to lay down the bat and the glove and pick up the pads or strip down to shorts and jerseys to make the quick runs up and down the courts of life.

I don’t honestly know what this season of health has in store for the Guidrys but we are excited about the little bit that he has shown us already!

Blessings,

Sam

 

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19

Nineteen days,  who knew that nineteen days would ever come to be so meaningful to me. I am not going to digress to the back story that builds the significance of these days.  You can get a sense of the whole journey here.  It represents the realization of on incredible Miracle in our lives and the beginnings of another.  Day 1 will forever be a joyous day.  We will celebrate the birth of Nisa Faith year after year.  Day 1 is the culmination of nine months of a melange of concern, faith, fear, trust and surrender.  It was a day of arrival, of life, of completion.  It was a day of overt blessing.  December 16th of 2012 was a joyous day.  What Allana and I did not know, what we could not have known was that it was a day of provision, a day of strength given.  I would be lying if I said that I sat at this computer with a solid thesis or a planned allegory.  The reality is that when I wrote this it was my first opportunity to truly experience and embrace the nineteen days.  When they occurred they were simply another nineteen days in the Christmas season and in 2013 we were still too deeply embroiled the Allana’s battle against Leukemia and the recovery from the Bone Marrow Transplant for me to experience them the way that I did as I was writing.  Now, five years out we sit at a new crossroads.  We have moved from sickness to health and out of the ashes of cancer God is teaching truths of life and ministry that are new every day.

Day 1 was not without its difficulties, ask any mother and she will tell you that this particular joy comes with its own brand of pain.  Two dear friends who were expecting when I originally posted these thoughts, engaged in a tongue-in-cheek argument on Facebook concerning any man’s ability to truly conceive of the trials and eventual pains of pregnancy and birth.  I do not even pretend (or desire) to really understand, preferring to stand by Allana’s side than in her place for this particular event.  Chayla’s birth was a stroll in the park, Nisa’s was more like a kick in the gut and then a short sprint to the finish line (a race in which Nisa beat our doctor and surprised our nurse).  Still, there she was, perfect, beautiful, a miracle from the hand of God.  We basked in the joy of the now.  We knew it was day one, but not that there were only 18 days left to this paragraph of our lives.

The frenzy of the night (Nisa was born at 9:40 pm) and the flush of the first day gives way to a wash of relief. The tensions of the past nine months; the fear at each ultrasound appointment; the waiting for the pronouncement that a new cycle of loss and grief would begin; they all fall away.Nisa Day 2

We joyfully prepare to bring Nisa home.  I am not sure that my words can express Day 2 any better than the twinkle in Allana’s eyes.  This Christmas gift is probably the best that we have ever received.  The whole family rejoices at the absence of that fateful “talk” with Robert, Sami and Chayla.  Each of us in our own way process the losses of the past in the joyous light of Nisa’s arrival.  We cannot help think of the siblings in heaven, from the Crashing resonation of Josiah’s passing to the unheralded passing of Ezra Matthew.   Day 2 becomes about rest, enjoyment and blessing.  The gathering storm is still beyond the horizon.  There is no sense of the deadly changes perhaps just beginning to take place.  Still what would come does not erase the joy and peace of Day 2.  It only serves to highlight it and to make me more thankful for God’s grace than ever.

NisaHome

 

 

The frenzied posting, calling and emailing is over.  Nisa Faith has been announced to the world.  As we approached the day that we celebrate our Saviors birth, we finally get to truly celebrate Nisa’s coming.

D. A. Precious: And those cheeks! I’m so happy for you!
December 19, 2012 at 1:48am · Like

Allana Belrose Guidry: I know. They are getting lots of kisses
December 19, 2012 at 1:54am · Like · 2

Nisa’s cheeks are getting a lot of kisses.  Allana is feeling a little more tired than usual….but then she just had a baby and she is not as young as she used to be.

We were prepared for all of the life changes that a newborn brings.  Bassinet, Pack n Play, bottles, formula, car seat, diapers etc….  What we did not know was that God had also prepared us for the changes that most likely even on this day six years ago were beginning to take place in the depths of Allana’s bones (weird to type that and not mean it metaphorically).  Eleven years of growth through struggle as a family, as individuals and as children of the Living God was about to be tested in a way that we had not imagined even in our wildest nightmares.  Still even as we were prepared for Nisa’s arrival, God had prepared us for that which we could not have even begun to be ready for.  So many crossroads where God directed what seemed the long and windy path.  It seemed so foolish, as foolish as buying diapers and preparing a nursery for a baby that would never come.

Nisa was here, and the long and windy path would soon be clear.

 For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Hebrews 4:15-16

The frenzy of birth fades in the light of our celebration of our Saviors arrival on the scene.  These days are filled with wonderful preparation and quiet enjoyment (with little sleep).  We are blessed by the generosity of so many of you who will read this, as we were suddenly and unexpectedly blessed this year.  Then as now I don’t know why I am surprised when I pray for provision and it comes in abundance.  Presents are wrapped as Nisa is loved and coddled by so many.  The preparations made over the previous month are in full use now.  Allana is enjoying her Christmas blessing, drinking in Nisa’s presence having desired this particular beverage for so very long.

She wakes on Day 7, a little sore, her throat a bit raspy and maybe just a touch of fever.  Not to worry, she did just give birth and the crazy weather is enough to make anyone a bit….

The preparations made over a lifetime by an all knowing God are about to be tested.  Quiet joy and praises rise from home and ministry wrapped in one.  So much has been put on hold as we waited for Nisa.  We are already making plans for the Spring and Summer, mapping out what our lives and ministry will look like.  We did not know that in less than two weeks everything would change, but God had been molding us into “change managers” for some time.  Early in our journey to full-time ministry when I had left the Hospitality industry God had given me a word that I would only know what I would be doing and how we would be living 30 days at a time.  It was frustrating and difficult but it prepared me for the runaway train ride that was coming.

The fevers worsened.  We moved through Christmas and towards the New Year.  Sore throat spread to body aches and stomach pain.  These days so close to the day that everything changed are barely a blur in my memory.  I can remember little of what happened outside of the progression of the illness that we didn’t even know was there.  Even with the fevers and discomfort there was a blissful ignorance as to the journey that we were being called to embark on.  Just to put the whole piece into perspective, Nisa was born at 9:40 pm on December 16th.  The 17th is day one and we move on from there.  So we are looking at December 25th through January 1st.  As I review the various posts on Facebook I see faces of joy and innocence.  The fevers are a footnote to the joy of the season made even more joyful by the arrival of our miracle baby.  Allana even downplays the intensity of the fevers putting them at 102. By the night of the 31st they are spiking between 104 and 106, or maybe not wanting to worry her too much I fudge the numbers a little, I do not really remember..  A trip to the ER is only forestalled by the fact that the Ibuprofen is knocking them down into safer territory.  Still by New Years Day it was enough.  We called Allana’s OB office.  The doctor on call prescribes a heavy duty antibiotic and some anti nausea medicine to mitigate the side effects.  We start it right away, but of course she does not get better.  By January 2nd Allana is very sick.  The pain in her belly has gotten much worse.  We suspect a postpartum infection but don’t understand why the antibiotics do not help.  January 3rd is a Thursday.  We arrive at the OB office at 10:00 am and are ushered in to the examining room.  Our Nurse Practitioner listens patiently to the story, but as the physical exam progresses her demeanor changes.  There is an urgency to her motions as she feels the abnormal swelling in Allana’s belly, the tenderness and lumps at her joints.  I can feel my apprehension risings, but still there are so many pills, shots, treatments…a quick fix is in order…

“I have called the Flower Hospital, they are expecting her.”  What…we need to get some tests… “No we are admitting her.”  We have plans can it wait until Monday… “No, I want you there within 2 hours, go home settle the children and pick up what you need.  Once you are there they will begin running tests to see what is going on.”

FlowerJan3Well if you have to be in a hospital you might as well have a beautiful view and a beautiful woman to share it with.

It was only shortly after this picture was taken that I would hear the word “Leukemia” for the first time, mixed in with a couple of other potential causes for Allana’s test results.  If the fevers were the relentless clacking as the rollercoaster climbs the first rise, then this was the ominous pause before the first drop.  The ride would not stop for almost a year.  However while the emotions and physical aspects rode the speeding rails, God remained rock solid and faithful.  The outpouring of love from God’s people was incredible.  Even in the midst of the myriad of “spiritual” advisers who decried our lack of faith for continuing treatment or saw this as a sign of trouble in our walk with God; His love overwhelmed us. “Traveling deeper and deeper.  Closer closer to God”  Allana’s words would ring with truth in a way that neither of us could ever imagine.  Deeper and Deeper. Closer, closer to God…there was no where else to go.

I am going to follow this up with more posts around The Nineteen Days.  I too often forget to lead with the fact that Allana came through treatment well and has been cancer free for over 5 years now.  While we have weathered short forays into ministry together through the past years,  we are again engaged together in His service.  Grandchildren have come.  Children have grown, married, prepared for High School and College.  Nisa turned 6 today.  We walk the Hupomone road following His guidance and blessing.  We are so thankful for all of those who have held us when we were weak and walked with us as we have traveled.

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A Post from Allana

Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgement, but has passed from death to life.
John 5:24

“Where are you headed?” He asked.

“To Florida,” I replied.

I’m sure he was looking for a specific answer, but he let it slide.

“Is this trip for pleasure?”

The question hung in the air while I tried to find the right words.

“Um, something like that.”

He really didn’t need to know. I am sure that the look on my face told him that wasn’t completely true, but for the two minutes it took to look at my passport and check my boarding pass, he let that answer be enough.

I moved through the rest of our time in the airport, on the plane, the drive to the hotel, and even as we sat down for a late dinner much like a robot. Trust me, it was way easier to walk through that day numb than to do the type of sobbing my heart longed to do. The truth is. My dear mother-in-law was dying.

From the time of her diagnoses two months ago, her health slid downhill faster than any of us expected. Just last weekend, Sam’s brother, Paul, said that he thought Dorothy only had about two weeks left. Sam had already been down to see his parents a couple weeks ago and spent a significant amount of time with them both. “She probably has like two weeks…” came as a major surprise and yet when I asked Sam if he wanted to fly down to Florida to be with his family, who had all gathered there, he declined saying that he already had time to say, “Goodbye.” However, on Thursday, Sam came home from work and told me that he really felt that he needed to go tomorrow to Florida and he needed me to go with him.

As any mother would, my brain frantically thought through all the logistics. When did Samantha need to be at work throughout the weekend? What schoolwork needed to be focused on? When would I get groceries and do laundry? Would my mom be able to take off work to stay with my three girls? You know that kind of thing. Yet, one thing screamed louder than anything other thought – my husband needed me to be there with him, so I was going to be there with him.

Being the empath that I am, these very intense high emotion moments can be difficult for me to handle sometimes. Not only do I have my own sadness, but I can also feel the sadness that everyone else is feeling too. Yes, it can be overwhelming indeed. I have found through the years that I do better when I find a quiet-ish corner and daze out as I need to.

Throughout Saturday I watched my three beautiful sisters-in-law float easily throughout the house, caring for my father-in-law and mother-in-law. At the beginning, I have to admit, I felt like a major loser. Thoughts ran through my head like, I should have just stayed at home. Sitting in the corner barely moving wasn’t helping anyone, not even Sam. I could disappear and my missing presence wouldn’t even be noticed. You should be more like them and get off your behind and go do something helpful, and yet there I sat motionless.

Saturday evening, Dotty’s breathing became more strained and she was responding only through moans, and even that was becoming less. Sam, our son, his wife and I were getting ready to head out, but the hospice nurse came just as we were leaving and Sam wanted to hear what she was going to say, so he told Robert and Jen to go to the hotel and we would meet up with them there after the hospice nurse left. The very sweet and quick like adopted family hospice nurse moved about with much love and care carrying out her medical jobs. When she was done, she told us that our dear mom had about 24hrs left, and we should spend as much time as we could with her. My heart sank to the floor and my emotions whirled around in all different directions. Thoughts like I would never get another hug from this woman who gave such caring hugs. I would never get another of her encouraging cards in the mail. I would never see her like or love another post on Facebook. I also thought about how I just wanted Jesus to take her home as soon as possible so she didn’t need to suffer any longer. My thoughts turned to thankfulness as I thought about the great love she showed me. I also thought about all the times that I had allowed my insecurities win and I believed the lies they whispered to me often that Dotty didn’t like me.

When the hospice nurse left, I stayed in the background to let Dotty’s husband, Norm, and her children surround her. However, they quickly called me over to share this moment with them. Truth is I was scared. I was scared of being that close to this woman in her fragile state. I was scared that my emotions would flow over and I would fall into a heap and I would uncontrollably sob. Debbie told me that I could touch her, and with everyone watching me, I put the bravest face I could muster and I touched my mother-in-law’s soft arm. It was like the air was sucked out from my lungs at that moment, and yet, as I breathed in I just felt a sweet peace.

We all sat around her bed with worship music playing. There were tears, and I am pretty sure I wasn’t the only one who cried a mix of happy and sad tears. As my father-in-law held the hand of his beloved wife of 58 years, my heart broke for him. This was going to be a difficult journey of grief. None of us got much sleep through the night. But for me, there was an ‘air’ of peace.

Throughout the next day, Dotty became more and more unresponsive. Around 5pm, I saw Debbie stand up and lean over my mother-in-law. I noticed right away that her breathing was quieter than it had been since Sam and I arrived the day before. I got Sam’s attention, and others must have noticed my signal because we all got very quiet and waited for a few seconds, then we all gathered around mom’s bed. We watched while her breathing slowed but had become easy. At 5:45pm it was almost as if she smiled, her face full of peace she took her last breath. We put our arms around each other and took time to cry. After a few minutes we all went outside to call our children while dad took some time alone to say goodbye to his beautiful bride.

Robert and Jen offered to go get dinner for everyone. While they were out Jen texted saying that she could see a rainbow, so we all ran outside to see and sure enough, there was not only one rainbow, but a double rainbow right over top of the house. Then the sky changed from beauty to beauty for the next few hours. I think Heaven was rejoicing at this beautiful saint coming home.

I am going to greatly miss my mother-in-law. We didn’t talk all the time, but she was a part of my daily life on Facebook. She ‘reacted’ to just about every single one of my posts. She often made loving comments on pictures or posts about my children. Dorothy Guidry has left a great legacy. I am so thankful she was able to watch her prayers for her children be answered, as each of them came to a personal relationship with the Savior of the world. When Norm and Dotty’s pastor came by to minister to the family, he mentioned what a blessing it was that their faith has been passed down to their children. Norm looks over at Sam and said, “Yes, it took some longer than others.” It was a very funny moment.

It truly has been an absolute blessing to be accepted into this family. I will never forget the first time I met Dotty in person. I was nervous because most of Sam’s family was all gathered together in Boston after celebrating his grandmother’s 90th birthday. As soon as we pulled into the driveway, Dotty ran out the door, passed by Sam and ran over to me and gave me a huge hug. I was baffled and yet the welcome continued to be just as sweet. I was no longer just in love with Sam; I quickly fell in love with his entire family. They have always brought so many joyful moments! When I started my cancer fight, each of the Guidry’s poured out so much love out to not just Sam and I, but our children as well. I am grateful to not have any idea what friends are talking about when they complain about their in-laws. My continued experience has been so opposite. Norman and Dorothy have been such an incredible witness of Jesus’ love and that continues to trickle down through their children.

Mom, I am going to miss you! However, I am so thankful that I know without a shadow of doubt that you are free from pain and sorrow because I know that you loved Jesus with all your heart. I love the vision I had of you when you passed away from this earth into your eternal home. I saw you running with ease and leaping into the arms of your Savior. I saw your smile bigger than I ever saw it before. I saw tears of joy and awe as you marveled over the immense beauty that surrounded you. I am so thankful that you are free from pain. I am so thankful that you are being rewarded for your faithfulness to the Father. I am so thankful that I know there is a heaven and that you are there. And I rejoice that I will see you again. Yes, I will miss the loving cards that you would send. I will miss the sweet butterfly reminders that showed how much you cared about me. I will miss seeing your reactions and reading your comments on Facebook. I will miss your great genuine hugs. Thank you for lovingly accepting me into your family.

This is why death for a Christian is different. We put our faith in something that cannot be seen with human eyes, but is instead felt with spiritual ones. You have a strong knowing that when you enter heaven’s gates, there is freedom. Death didn’t win. My mother-in-law lives more deeply than she ever did here on earth. Cancer didn’t steal Dorothy from us… no… God welcomed her in to the place she belonged. Yes, it’s true, I absolutely hate cancer… but when a person dies from cancer, God doesn’t fail. He always heals, it may be a healing here on earth like I have had, or it may be a healing He chooses to give in heaven. God is good.

Allana G.

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Tita.Johns.ReceptionWe will be headed back to Florida in a couple of days to celebrate the life of Dorothy Guidry, my mother.  As a part of that service I have been asked to write out a memory that I have of her.  There are of course many individual memories that are cute and maybe a little angsty.  There is the time she was chasing me (in fun) and I headed out the storm door, missing the handle by inches, my hand went through the glass sending us on a trip to the nearest ER.  I remember how quickly the nurse in her came out as she wrapped my arm and instructed me to put pressure on the wound.  Her quick and calm response kept me from panic and you can be sure that I soaked the injury for all it was worth for years (If you have seen White Christmas you will know what I mean…)

There were strings in our string beans, hidden gifts on birthdays, Christmas scavenger hunts.  I remember her chain smoking as we waited for the movers to come during one of our many moves (she quit before I was a teenager).  I remember her patiently working with me to send a tape (mini reel to reel!) to my Dad who was posted overseas.  However my greatest memory of her is not any of these events.  It is a quality.  My mother pursued the heart of Jesus.  She loved and adopted people, just as He does. This love was without conditions and the adoption was freely available, it only needed to be accepted and there was a tacit understanding that this adoption extended to our family.

Whether it was the woman under the couch, the girl with the injured heart or the eleven year old smoker who would bruise me repeatedly standing outside our church, she brought them into the love of Christ in our home. Some of her adopted family will be sitting in the memorial service on Friday.  Some could not accept or persevere in their adoption and passed from view and some ended tragically bringing tears that few saw.  Some were (briefly) boyfriends or girlfriends but the love and adoption was never withdrawn.  Some are husbands and wives who stood by her side during these last days of life here on earth.  She has in this adopted family Peters, Pauls, Zaccheus’s, Mary Magdelenes, Marthas and even a few Lazarus’s. She has blessed so many and we have all been blessed in return.

This Spirit led heart guided our choice of church family.  We were never a “denomination”.  She taught us to seek the place the Holy Spirit would have us serve, not necessarily the place where we felt most comfortable or the place that served us best.  Our church family consists of Anglican,Lutheran, Baptist, Pentecostal, Independent, Calvinist, Wesleyan and Armenian members literally all over the world.  This was not born of an inconstancy of belief but from a solid faith anchored on the Rock that allowed her to grasp the width and breadth of the Kingdom of God as few do.

 

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